Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world. According

to the 2010 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human

Development Report, Malawi ranks number 153 from a sample of 169

countries in terms of the level of human development. The UNDP Human

Development Report is the general framework used by the United Nations

Organization (UN) in determining the general levels of prosperity among


Malawi faces a multiplicity of socioeconomic problems. These include

a fast-growing population that in turn exerts substantial pressure on

limited land and natural resources; high unemployment levels; endemic

official corruption in government and public administration; a bloated civil

service with generally low levels of efficiency; lack of fiscal discipline in

the public service; heavy dependence on outside balance of payments

support; generally low levels of education and training opportunities; a

poor state of health services compounded by an HIV/AIDS pandemic that

is not yet under control; heavy dependence on agriculture and exports of a

few agricultural commodities which are largely in raw (unprocessed) form;

a low-level productivity in small-scale farming and a vast gap between

small-scale and estate agriculture with respect to product range and

productivity; and vulnerability to external political and economic shocks,

as well as other factors on account of the country's landlocked geographical


This cocktail of socio-economic problems accentuates and exacerbates

one major phenomenon: poverty. The International Monetary Fund's 2002

Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (MPRSP) acknowledged this fact,

stating that poverty in the country was "widespread, deep and severe."

The policy document that followed the MPRSP, The Malawi Growth and

Development Strategy: From Poverty to Prosperity 2006-2011 (MGDS),

acknowledges that the situation has not improved much from what it was

at the time the 2002 MPRSP was produced. The MGDS makes a ringing

admission that during the implementation period of the MPRSP, very little

progress had been made in reducing poverty, noting in 2006 that "[p]overty

has not changed significantly for the past seven years."